I have been dealing with so many projects that I haven’t written in ages, and exactly because I got involved with those projects, more and more were requested from me, including having to talk and write about me to people in other projects and countries. I got really stuck and that made me think why, after all, we are the ones who really know ourselves better, why that’s so difficult. I started to think about it and some issues came to me. It is obvious that as professionals we need...

It’s been a while since I last wrote about this topic but recently this has been such a recurrent issue around that there was no way to avoid it. ACCOUNTABILITY, the word, the feeling, the idea, the demand and the right when we teach. Having chosen teaching as a career, all you can do is to be the best you can possibly be, but overall, and above all, there is a reason for that and it is called stakeholders. It’s first your students, then their parents or family, if...

Well, I have been discussing assessment for sometime now, discussing from Young Learners characteristics, general assessment types to specific ones that cater for young learners. Now, it’s important to understand how all the information presented can be put together within the framework of children’s course. In my reality, young learners’ lessons are very dynamic and communicative, most of the times with teachers meeting the children at the reception area and still outside the class, checking the weather with them and then going into the class where they normally start by...

Following the topic of previous months - assessing young learners - I will here discuss a bit some types we can use with this age groups. Effective language assessment provides chances for children to use their abilities to demonstrate what they can do at their appropriate level. It requires acknowledgement of the principles we have already discussed last month and also of the curriculum goals as well as children's cognitive developmental, emotional and psychological stages [as I have briefly discussed even before]. In order to suit young learners’ reality best,...

Teaching Young Learners have always interested me and assessing them comes hand in hand with it, obviously, so, for sometime now, I have been researching this area and developed a work on speaking assessment which I would like to share with you. In order not to bore you all with an ginormous reading, I have broken the work into some parts so each month I am sharing a bit. I have already talked about YL characteristics and this month I am talking about types of speaking assessment and their...

I have been working on teaching young learners a lot in these past months, mostly due to a new project we are implementing in our school, so I really thought about sharing some of the views I have been studying which definitely impact the teaching of these students. Cognitive development According to McKay (2006:6-14) children are in constant gradual development, continuing to learn through concrete experience, what can be called ‘learn through doing’ . Their thinking develops in knowledge and intellectual skills, but not yet able to use meta-language, the...

I have decided to write about these “types” of English as a lot is being discussed in terms of approaches in teaching due to lots of schools claiming to be “bilingual”. Well, in fact, let’s discuss those two things - what facet of English we deal with in our regular teaching reality and what bilingualism entails. Let’s start with the fact that we live in Brazil and in this country the official language is Portuguese and it is really difficult to function in this country in any other...

It seems such an obvious concept and such an easy thing to do, but then, you set up a task, or ask for an action, and it does not come up as imagined. Sometimes, students just understand or get partial information on what they are supposed to do and so, undesired behaviour comes to play. For me this is a constant struggle and I see lots of teachers in the same situation. Instructions are not something to be overlooked, in fact, giving the right sort of instruction is crucial to...

Let’s start by defining gamification, which according to Oxford Dictionary is  the application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity. In our case, it’s the is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate students to achieve their goals. Games have existed for a very long time and are considered an activity, normally voluntarily, performed within a timeframe and space according to established rules with an end or a goal in itself which provide a bit of tension and...

Beginning of a new term in a year always brings a question mark… Will there be a need of new professionals joining the staff of a school or not? Who and how to hire them? Even though we plan well ahead the steps, it is always a surprise when we finally start the term. A good school normally gets CVs from prospect teachers interested in doing its work force. What would be the features we normally focus at when analysing a candidate? I would say that there are item which...

I had to substitute for a teacher who was going to attend a two-day course and this whole event triggered my thoughts. Well, how odd is it for a teacher to teach new very young learners’ groups in the end of the year? There are many issues to consider. From the perspective of the substitute teacher, there is the fear of having the kids not accepting you as their teacher as they are used to the class teacher who is absent for those days. There is also the fact that...

It's amazing how things happen in life. Learning English has always been a passion for me and this is what I want to pass on to my students, but we never know if this is actually achievable… Well, other day I was taking part in a social event when a woman, accompanied by her husband, approached me and asked for a minute of my time… I had recognised her as the mother of a student and immediately thought it would be a problem of some sort - no one...

CLIL is a fairly recent way of teaching. An acronym standing for Content and Language Integrated Learning - according to Mehisto et all [2008] it is a dual-focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of both content and language.  A lot is said and discussed about CLIL and normally the discussions focus on the subject teacher having to teach his or her subject in English.  Most books and articles I found present definitions and ideas almost always trying to help the...

It’s funny to think about how the relationship between teachers and students has changed. Some years ago, the teacher would simply tell a student off and then s/she would study harder or so, even parents would support the teacher. Nowadays things are different. Feedback has to be well thought about. Anyway, define what feedback is first. Hattie and Timplerley [2003] from the University of Auckland defined that feedback is the information provided by the teacher regarding aspects of students’s performance or understanding. They claim that a teacher can provide...

It’s not rare to find students who are not demonstrating a high level of achievement and yet think they are doing just fine. Or, conversely, who, despite producing the required level of language for a given stage believes it to be necessary to retake all lessons again to improve more.  I thought about this as I came across two cases recently. The first, a student who was doing great at a certain level and came to talk to me about going back a level or two. She was not feeling...

Holidays are over, preparation has already taken place so now it’s time to get into teaching! When the year comes to an end we think back and realise our work was done and a rest is deserved. Soon we start longing for the new groups, the new materials, the planning… I believe students never realise the amount of work we face prior to the beginning of a new academic year. In good schools all must be planned beforehand in order to provide the best possible educational service. The learning process...

According to Baker (2011) bilingual education refers to the education in more than one language, often comprising more than two. It is different from traditional education as it uses language as a medium of instruction providing tolerance towards other linguistic and cultural groups.  There is the pivotal need to integrate language and content which is done with the material used, the language used by the teacher and mainly, the language used by the students. Leszek Boryseiwicz, vice-chancellor of Cambridge University, spoke to the Gardian last June about bilingualism and he...

I got a message one of these days which said “No matter what’s happening. CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY. Don’t focus on what’s wrong. Find something positive in your life!” by Joel Osteen, and that made think about being a teacher and assessing students. We have just had our mid-term tests in the school and that’s the time we have formal tests, we correct them, we make a balance of their performance up to now in the semester, give feedback to students and concentrate our efforts on possible remedial work...

Sharing experiences may be daunting but there is a whole developmental process in it. Maybe I am talking about the same idea, yet again, but I attended a conference this past week and much was discussed about the need of continuous development for people working in education. This job of ours require us to be always in our feet studying, catering for our students. Julie Tice, teacher trainer, BC, Lisbon, said that “reflective teaching means looking at what you do in the classroom, thinking about why you do it, and...

I have been reading a lot in order to prepare some kids courses for the second semester and I have come across a very interesting discussion, again, in young learners’ field on how support and challenge in their lessons. Learners in general, but I believe children more specifically, need a lot of support when learning, being it language or any other subject. This support can be emotional, enabling the bond and involvement needed between teachers, learners and the subject. If there is a rejection or any feeling of uneasiness...

June has arrived and with it the end of the first academic semester of the year. This period comes with mixed feelings, feeling of duty fulfilled for a term well worked, but also a kind of uncertainty whether or not the groups will remain the same for the following term. In regular schools, enrolments are compulsory as well as taking the whole course, but in Private Language Schools [PLSs], as they are “free courses” as called in  Brazil, there is no obligation to attend the whole course. So, back...

Here I am, in the middle of a semester, catering for lessons, teachers, groups, students and an ICELT programme when a fellow teacher came to me and asked me about lesson observations. Lessons observations might be feared by some teachers, but they are such a fantastic tool for development, both for the observer and the teacher. As long as the atmosphere is kept concerning a developmental path, there is nothing to be afraid of. The very nature of a lesson observation is to share best practices. Whenever we teach we...

It’s now, the middle of a semester and we start having our minds set into finding different and new materials for our groups. In fact, sometimes it’s simply time to change. A friend normally says “the book is the slave, not the master”, but some teachers end up relying so much on the coursebook that choosing it is one of the most important features in “teaching”. Wether or not you are involved in the material selection project, there’s a lot to be thought when analysing materials to avoid judging the...

The other day I was struggling to chose a topic to discuss about with the teachers in my school. It was somehow funny as things happened - two of the teachers came, on the very same day, asking about ideas and rationale for using music in class. Well, this extract is not exactly on how to work with songs and have students to fill in the gaps with missing words, or organising lines, etc… It is actually in the sense of Brain Gym® and how to have the help...

I really thought that after 31 years teaching and 24 managing a school, no beginning of a new academic term would frighten a person anymore… I was wrong! I have decided to re-read Professor Celso Antunes’ book, “Professores e Professauros” and this made me think about all that we do when we teach… I would like to apologise for the play with words, but I came up with a session for teachers I decided to call : Abreast… or a beast? This title was to represent our continuous struggle to...

I was very happy to have been asked to write for the RichmondShare space and thought about getting started by discussing a statement some people make regarding our profession. Are teachers born ready or made? Some people claim that teachers are born ready, that this profession is guided solely by passion which I tend to agree just up to a point. Scrivener (2005:15) states that being it conscious or not, most of our attitude as teachers relies on the experience we had as students seeing our teachers back then, but choosing...